Our milk is supplied from four dairy farms in the south and central mainland of Shetland:
Noss Farm, Scousburgh
Quendale Farm, Quendale
Fleck Farm, Dunrossness
Setter Farm, Tingwall
Dairy farming carries with it a huge commitment and the rigid constraints of milking twice daily means it is also a big tie practically. In Shetland our dairy farmers must run their herds very precisely so a consistent amount of milk is produced to meet demand 52 weeks a year. It’s challenging but they are passionate about producing the best fresh local milk and dairy products, so as a community we are not wholly dependent on outside sources for them. This would mean during periods of bad weather, when freight boats are cancelled, that Shetlanders would be left without fresh dairy produce.
Martin Burgess – Quendale Farm
Martin bought Quendale Farm in 1994, where he lives and farms with his wife Hilary and two children Duncan and Emma. Its full history as a dairy farm is unknown but it is said Quendale supplied milk to military troops based here during World War II. Today the farm employs three full-time staff. Richard Garriock began working at Quendale in 1999, and is very experienced in both dairy cattle and sheep production. Martin Jamieson has just completed his SVQ level 3 in Dairy Farming at Barony College, through an apprenticeship at the farm, and Cameron Leslie has recently begun work after leaving school. The main enterprise on the farm is dairying with a milking herd of around 100 plus cows. There are also 850 breeding ewes at Quendale which produce store lambs for sale. Quendale is set in wonderful scenery and provides a home for a great variety of wildlife. The combination of worked arable ground and permanent pasture provides a good year round food source for birds.
“Here at Quendale we aim to breed quality cows that are able to milk well from a largely grass based diet, with minimal health problems, producing high quality milk for the Shetland community.”
Derek Flaws – Fleck Farm
Derek took over Fleck Farm from his late uncle Robert Bairnson in 1986 when it had been operating as a dairy farm for seven years. His interest and passion has always been in farming from a young age. As a boy he spent many hours on the farm with his ‘Uncle Bob’. After leaving schoool, he studied agriculture at Weyland College in Orkney and he has worked in farming and dairy since 1979. Fleck farm has been in the family since 1921 and Derek’s mother, Mina, was active on the farm as a young woman before marrying in 1960 and starting her family. Today the Fleck herd is around four times its original size. Derek’s parents who are both in their eighties now still play an active role in the running of the farm and can be found working in the byre most days.
“The dairy industry can have its challenges and the milking is a huge commitment. However, it’s a way of life I’m used to and, because of Shetland’s unique location, it’s vitally important we have our own local dairy. I’m pleased to do my bit.”
John Irvine – Setter Farm
John, currently the chairman of Shetland Farm Dairies, runs Setter Farm in Tingwall, with his wife Vivien, their two sons and their daughter. John has always wanted to be a farmer for as long as he can remember. The Irvine family can be traced at South Setter as far back as the 1720’s. In the late 1890’s and early 1900’s there were a few house cows for milk and butter. After the start of the First World War, John’s great grandfather, James Irvine, started selling milk in Scalloway, with the help of his wife and their youngest son Robert. At the end of the war John’s grandfather, also James Irvine, returned home. He built up the herd over many years and in 1944 started making silage. In 1947 he bought his first tractor, a grey Fergie, and in 1948 he installed milking machines. John’s father, James R. Irvine, took over the farm in the early 1960’s and continued with the improvements. John then bought North Setter in 1984 and went into partnership with his father, who in 1993 semi-retired for health reasons. John has run the farm since, adding more buildings, increasing the herd and the sheep flock to what it is now. He also started agricultural contracting. Today there are 46 milkers and 38 dry cows and young stock, all British Friesans, and 200 breeding ewes, all Cheviot, plus 75 Shetland ewes on the farm.
“This is the most northerly dairy farm in Britain and dairying has been done at Setter for one hundred years. You can’t get milk any fresher, we are finished milking by 7.00am and the milk can be in the shops by noon.”
Robert Nicolson – Noss Farm
Robert and his son Matthew Nicolson bought Noss Farm in 2012. It was originally established by the Mainland family and has operated as a dairy farm since 1980. Robert has farmed beef cattle and sheep previously. Matthew, his son, has joined the business. They along with Matthew’s wife Lynette continue to run the dairy herd at Noss, producing 1,600 litres of milk daily aand breeding all their own replacement cattle.
“We feel lucky to be able to meet the demands of producing milk in such a picturesque but challenging location as Shetland.”